Belgian and Car Collide: Car Loses

What started as a simple training exercise in Independence, Kan., turned into a two-mile chase involving five police officers, two highway patrolmen, concerned citizens, a horse-drawn wedding carriage, and Rocky, an 1,800-pound, 7-year-old Belgian gelding.

Before Rocky was captured on the grounds of a local high school with no injuries to horse or people, the carriage collided with a 2001 Mercury Sable, driven by Christina E. Tucker. The incident severed the driver's side mirror.

Rocky the Clydesdale

Rocky, right, safe at home after fender bender.

"Now what do I do?" thought Tucker. "I can't exactly get his license tag number."

Events started April 17 when David Wallis, owner-operator of Cornerstone Carriage Company in Cherryvale, Kan., traveled to nearby Independence to give carriage rides as part of a First Communion Celebration. Arriving with two steeds selected from his stable of five working carriage horses, Wallis hitched up his experienced Standardbred and ferried guests through Riverside Park.

Following the event, Wallis hitched up recently purchased Rocky to access the Belgian’s potential. Since his business often used the park for carriage tours, Wallis wanted Rocky to be familiar with the environment. Rocky performed flawlessly.

"It was completely my fault," Wallis ruefully explained. "I completely forgot the basics." Wallis neglected to tie Rocky to the trailer while he chatted with passing motorists, who kept continually calling Wallis away from untacking Rocky. Distracted, Wallis made another error when he unhaltered Rocky before unhitching the Visa-Vis Wedding Carriage. Rocky and the carriage took off, the Belgian trotting around the park oval with Wallis and his wife, Lori, in pursuit.

"Rocky was calm," Wallis said. "He just trotted along on the ride route." However, Rocky then turned onto Oak Street, surprising the few passing motorists in the town of 9,000. Several alerted authorities, resulting in a police scanner message that attracted the seven official responders. Wallis commandeered a friendly passing driver, who pursued the gelding.

After exchanging insurance information with the Tucker, Wallis shook his head and again stressed the importance horse owners should place on basic safety and not giving in to distractions when handling horses.

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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